To their credit, the Astros have finally committed to a complete overhaul of the roster. But a thin farm system will mean a few hard years of losing. The few reasons to watch: line-drive machine Jose Altuve, young power arm Jordan Lyles and a couple of good starting pitchers in Bud Norris and Wandy Rodriguez.
The Favorite: Minnesota
So much of the Twins' failure this season was injury-related. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, who represent a third of the team's payroll, combined to play in 151 games and hit just seven home runs. Jason Kubel, Denard Span, Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano, key contributors in 2010, when Minnesota won the Central, also spent long stretches on the DL. The Twins can help themselves by putting a better defense on the field: They are last in the AL in turning balls in play into outs this year, and the staff is last in the league in strikeouts. But if Mauer and Morneau are healthy—and hitting—in '12, the Twins have the best chance to go from cellar dweller to champagne popper.